In Annapolis last week, the Department of Natural Resources held a public meeting to discuss revisions of its statewide deer management program -- and more than 1,000 people filled the auditorium and cafeteria at Annapolis High School.
The crowd on hand was expected, because meetings at Sandy Point State Park late last year also had drawn large numbers of opponents and proponents of the first deer hunt held on that parcel of public land.
But while the meetings at Sandy Point included raucous demonstrations, the meeting last week was orderly and informative -- including new information on the deer population at Sandy Point.
DNR recently completed a Forward Looking Infrared Radar survey of the park grounds and adjacent properties and observed 81 deer, which is equal to 74 deer per square mile.
The aerial survey, which marks warm-blooded animals through heat signatures, confirms that deer numbers have reached levels where habitat destruction occurs, according to DNR.
Severe damage to understory vegetation can disrupt or destroy habitat used by other animals such as songbirds and small mammals, and threaten native plant diversity.
Across most of the state, DNR officials said Wednesday night, deer numbers are at their highest levels in history, and wildlife managers are seeking input from hunters and non-hunters on how to best control the deer population.
The results from a series of meetings around the state, such as the one at Annapolis High School, will be evaluated, and a draft of a new deer management plan will be ready in early summer.
On Feb. 20, biologist and environmental consultant Rich Pais is scheduled to give a lecture at the Irvine Natural Science Center in Stevenson on how deer have adapted to overdevelopment of land in Maryland.
Titled, "Delusions of Bambi: The Past, Present and Future of White-Tail Deer in Maryland," Pais' talk will explore the decisions hunters, wildlife managers and environmentalists must face.
One explanation for the increase in the state's deer population is that the animal thrives in edge habitat, which is created, for example, when housing developments replace woodland.
The lecture begins at 7: 30 p.m. Tickets are $4 for center members and $6 for non-members. Call (410) 484-2413.
Pub Date: 2/02/97